Will all PS5 and Xbox Series X games cost $70

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Will all PS5 and Xbox Series X games get the next-gen price hike?

Last week, 2K revealed the release information for NBA 2K21. In doing so, the publisher announced that the next-gen version of the game (on PS5 and Xbox Series X) will cost $69.99, a $10 increase from the price of the current-gen versions of the game.

The price hike was a surprise but not totally unexpected. After all, the cost of a AAA game hasn’t seen a price hike in over a decade. According to research company IDG CEO Yoshio Osaki, the game industry was due for a price increase on games.

“The last time that next-gen launch software pricing went up was in 2005 and 2006, when it went from $49.99 to $59.99 at the start of the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation,” Osaki told Gamesindustry. “During that time, the costs and prices in other affiliated verticals have gone up.”

Osaki explained that prices across every entertainment venue — from movie ticket prices to streaming service subscriptions — have gone up over the years. Comparatively, the percentage increase for game prices from 2005 to 2020 is actually lower than other industries.

“Even with the increase to $69.99 for next-gen, that price increase from 2005 to 2020 next-gen is only up 17%, far lower than the other comparisons,” Osaki added. Of course, he failed to mention that video game publishers have the luxury of additional revenue streams in the form of DLC, microtransactions and even in-game advertising. Heck, NBA 2K20 had all three.

Publishers and others in the media have attributed the $10 next-gen price hike to inflation and the cost of development and publishing going up in price. There’s also the fact that studios have ballooned in size as games become more ambitious. Osaki acknowledges that the $10 increase won’t cover the increased costs of game-making but “does move it in the proper direction.”

Osaki isn’t the only one to express these thoughts. Former PlayStation executive Shawn Layden also recently said that the current business model in video games isn’t sustainable. One of his suggestions to help control the rising development costs was to possibly shorten the length of games, particularly their stories. Obviously this applies more towards single-play games like Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II. While I think we all can agree that the game is incredible, it did require nearly double the development time of its predecessor.

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Do we settle for shorter games? Less detail? Do publishers start shying away from AAA blockbusters and instead emphasize indie titles, which we’ve seen a push towards. Or do we all accept the $10 price increase and if so, will every next-gen game be priced at $69.99?

Probably not. Let’s face it — some games don’t warrant that premium pricing. While Osaki did reveal that other publishers are exploring next-gen price increases, it seems to be only for “certain franchises.”

Osaki believes that only “flagship” AAA titles will merit the $69.99 price tag and I tend to agree. Smaller indie studios obviously don’t have insane costs associated with their development. It’s possible indie titles will see a increase as well but we shouldn’t expect all games on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 to cost $69.99.

That said, for those franchises that do raise their price to $69.99, they better back it up. These better feel like full, polished experiences.